Prosecution of Drug Cases in Henrico, Virginia

In Henrico County, like many other places in Virginia, drug related offenses are prosecuted severely and carry strict penalties such as fines and jail time. If you have been accused of committing a drug crime, from possession to intent to distribute, it is important that you understand how your case will be handled by the prosecution. The following is important information to know about what prosecutors need to prove and how they will attempt to prove your case.

For help in minimizing the harm of your charges, consult with a Henrico County drug lawyer today.

What Prosecutors Need to Prove For a Drug Conviction

The first thing the prosecution needs to prove is what the drug is, which is why upon arrest, the officers will perform a field test, where they use a kit to determine what the drug is.

However additionally, in order for a conviction, the drug needs to be tested by the forensics lab in the state of Virginia and then this needs to be presented as evidence showing where it was tested and by who it was tested. They also need to track the chain of custody for the drugs or in other words where it went from the police to the drug lab and who handled it each step of the way. And those individuals can be subpoenaed to testify in court.

Secondly, they need to show it was in your possession, then what was the intent of the possession, was it just for personal use, was it for distribution, etc. Distribution is also shown by the amount of the drug in your possession and any tools for sale you may possess.

How Do They Go About Proving Their Case?

After they have the evidence from the lab that the drug is what it is, they then present that to the court to show that it is indeed an illegal substance. They use the testimony of the officers on the scene, the officers who handle the arrest. If it’s an independent witness or confidential informant, they will have them testify before to prove it to the court that you were in possession, and/or that you were distributing or intended to distribute.

Evidence Typically Presented in Henrico Drug Cases

In drug offense cases in Henrico County, the state will present evidence from the officers who either discovered the evidence or conducted the investigation. They’ll testify as to how they encountered you, as to how they either found the drugs or how they determined that you were distributing the drugs. There will usually be evidence of an audio or videotape, especially in distribution cases.

Prosecutors will also present a certificate of analysis, which is a document that confirms what the drug was and the amount of that’s.

Elements Hotly Contested at Trial

In a drug case in Henrico County the most hotly contested issue usually revolves around probable cause or search and seizure issues regarding how the drugs were obtained or how a search was conducted. Another hotly contested issue is the veracity of the witnesses involved, if there’s confidential informants, or if there’s independent witnesses whose testimony can be impeached.

Another hotly contested issue is how the drugs were tested and how handled.  An attorney is looking for issues in the chain of custody, in other words how the drugs were taken from where they were found to the lab and how they were tested.

Sentencing in Henrico County Drug Cases

Sentencing in Henrico County will depend greatly on the drugs in question and your prior record.  If they are harder drugs like heroin or cocaine, the sentencing is much harsher, especially if there’s any prior convictions and/or if there’s aggravating factors. Aggravating factors will be if the possession or the distribution occurred near a school or sales were conducted involving minors or firearms.

If it’s a what’s considered to be lighter drug like marijuana or even a prescription drug and you can show issues of substance abuse versus distribution, the courts will usually take a softer sentencing posture if we can show that you’re actively involved in counseling.

An experienced attorney will also seek to alternative sentencing options, which can include the drug court option, first offender outcomes, and or sentences that require active counseling over incarceration.